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Max Lamb, Lauren Rodgers, Nishant Neel and Jaime McKenna's senior design project seeks to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Photo: Yolanda Chen

Four Bioengineering seniors are designing a device to reduce chemotherapy side effects in cancer patients.

The yet unnamed device provides targeted cancer drug delivery. Only the cancer cells receive the drug and other healthy or gans are not damaged or affected.

This device is a senior design project, which Engineering students must complete before graduation. They are tasked with developing a creative product while applying the various skills and knowledge they have learned in class. Successful past projects include a snake robot which maneuvers through rubble and a device which keeps the wearer awake.

The project, which is the brain child of Max Lamb, Lauren Rodgers, Nishant Neel and Jaime McKenna, is similar to a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine, which scans the body using magnetic fields.

Using a magnetic field, the device heats up the body, but “is not strong [so] that it won’t harm the body,” Engineering senior Max Lamb said. Doctors can adjust the target area by manipulating the device with a rudder connected to it.

The device uses a type of drug that is specifically designed to only release the material in necessary parts of the body. The drug has a two-layered structure. The outer layer of the capsule is liposome, a spherical layer that is widely used in pharmaceutical drugs. Within the capsule, there are numerous particles containing iron oxide nanoparticles, which dissolve only when stimulated by the device.

A patient would take the drug and once it is spread around the body, doctors would choose the targeted area and apply a magnetic field to cause heat, releasing the medicine only in that area.

“The advantage is that you don’t have to target the drug. It can be anywhere,” Lamb said.

Also, Engineering senior Lauren Rodgers said the device and drug work on a nano scale. Nano scale refers to scales of 10 to the negative nine meters, which can circulate around the body at a rapid pace.

The team is currently at the prototyping stage, creating a 10-centimeter-tall model for mice. It will use dye instead of medicine in its drug particles to demonstrate the accuracy of the device.

In addition to cancer care, the device can be used to inject drugs or nano devices to treat epilepsy. It can also be used for brain imaging, which is very useful in neurological fields.

“We can use [the device] to selectively insert things into the brain in small areas,” McKenna said.

The project idea stemmed from the team members previous experiences in the nanoparticle lab and device lab, Engineering senior Nishant Neel said. The team is developing the device in the lab of professors David Issadore and Andrew Tsourkas, and the project will continue after graduation.“The lifespan is much longer than that [of other senior projects],” Rodgers said.

“If the project works really well, it would universally affect the way for a lot of [medical treatments],” Engineering senior Jaime McKenna said.

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